Australia v New Zealand, 5th ODI, Brisbane February 12, 2009

Vettori desperate to start something great

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Daniel Vettori wants to leave Australia with some silverware © Getty Images
 

It doesn't matter to New Zealand that this Australian outfit has lost its aura over the past few months. The visitors remain desperate to beat their trans-Tasman rivals even though they are no longer world beaters, and their final opportunity in this series occurs at the Gabba on Friday.

Since taking a 2-0 lead in the Chappell-Hadlee Series, New Zealand have watched the hosts regather strength and with one more strike will have missed their chance. To Daniel Vettori's men, this deciding game is the most important since the 2007 World Cup semi-final, only this time they don't have experienced campaigners in most corners.

Both sides are regenerating, but New Zealand have the extra incentive of ending their streak of never beating Australia in a series in the hosts' backyard. "There's a lot of motivation going around and that's part of it," Vettori said of their past record. "It's also the excitement of playing a final for us, getting ourselves up for that and enjoying the opportunity to beat Australia because they're few and far between for a lot of players.

"This could be the start of something great for what is a very young team. So we'll be using that as motivation and just try to get as excited as possible for the game."

Vettori will remind the players of their performance in Adelaide on Tuesday, when Australia levelled the series, and urge them to take responsibility in the big occasion. "All the guys that let themselves down with the bat, and also with the ball and even in the field, need to know they have to lift for this game," he said. "This is the most important game a New Zealand cricket team has played for a long time."

While the visitors crave a change of history, the Australians want to avoid an embarrassing defeat against opponents they consider inferior. Coming back from the couple of early defeats has given Ricky Ponting's side extra energy, especially after the improved batting performances of Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke and the Hussey brothers.

"[This game] is everything, we want to finish the Australian summer off on a good note," Ponting said. "If we do we we've got a Twenty20 game on Sunday and then we head to South Africa with a fairly similar group of guys that will probably have just a bit more of a spring in their step if we happen to win the game."

Australia have an injury concern over Clarke, who has a sore upper back, and if he misses out Ponting will consider adding Peter Siddle and plucking an opener from the middle order. "If Michael comes up I don't think there will be too many changes," Ponting said. The weather in Brisbane is unsettled and the predicted showers may also have a say in the selections.

Vettori said if Clarke was missing it would give them a slight advantage, but they also have a couple of worries. Ross Taylor left the field with a bleeding mouth during the warm-up at the Gabba before the rain came on Thursday. He appeared in only minor discomfort while Brendon McCullum, who will play, will decide over the next day whether to have another pain-killing injection in his injured right shoulder.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo